IN the wake of 83 containers being swept off YM Efficiency off Port Stephens the response to the debris has been fast and efficient.
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During a community presentation by clean-up contractor Varley and the NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) an outline of what has been done, and what the continuing effort will be, in relation to the 81 containers which are presumed to now be sitting on the seabed in depths estimated to be up to 120 metres was provided.
Angus Mitchell the State Marine Pollution Controller outlined that the debris collected so far had come the 83 containers lost at sea and potentially another 53 containers which were damaged in the incident.
He also noted that while 83 containers was a significant number to be lost that 10,000 containers are lost annually across the globe.
Future planning includes seeking vessels with capabilities to identify and map containers on the sea bed, investigations will be based on computer modelling.
Bob Baldwin spokesperson for Varley told News Of The Area, “We believe that we have collected 90-95 percent of the debris with the remaining debris located in inaccessible pockets which will require specialist teams and possibly workers abseiling cliff faces to finalise the clean-up.”
He believes that the weather will dictate when will be collected.
Varley has collected the debris focusing on leaving the beaches and waterways of Port Stephens and the Mid North Coast better than they were before the incident.
Locals have expressed concerns around the foam washed up and were relieved that it is not the type of plastic that breaks into micro plastic, it has been identified as yoga mats, not polystyrene.
It is anticipated that more debris will eventually wash ashore, potentially for a period extending up to ten years, however Angus Mitchell of RMS gave assurances that the local Councils, nor the State Government would not be called on to foot the continuing clean-up bill.
Local businesses that lose trade as a result of the container incident, including fishermen, can lodge a claim against the YM Efficiency.
It is unlikely that the remaining containers will be recovered, rather the containers may be left, forming man made reefs.
The public is urged to keep reporting all debris sighted to RMS on 131236.
By Marian SAMPSON